Peace process is the way forward

The government will not back down from the peace process despite the hardships it faces getting all ethnic armed groups to the negotiating table, State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said Sunday at the second anniversary of the signing of the Nationwide Ceasefire Agreement (NCA).

“It is the second anniversary of the signing. There is no reason to step back. We will keep going forward. During this situation, if we face different difficulties and challenges we need to help each other,” she said in the keynote speech.

She said the National League for Democracy (NLD) which took over the reins of government after dominating the 2015 elections, inherited the peace process that was initiated by former president U Thein Sein based on the NCA.

“Our main objective is to implement dreams of our people who are longing for peace and national reconciliation for years,” said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Commander-in-Chief Senior General Min Aung, who has complete control over the Tatmadaw and the country’s security agencies, vowed to fully cooperate with the civilian government’s peace efforts.

“By implementing works that we should do or we are able to do which are stated in NCA as soon as possible, we can reap outcomes of the peace and Tatmadaw is ready to collaborate willingly,” he said.

NCA was signed between the government and eight ethnic armed groups on October 15, 2015. Former President U Thein Sein, members of United Nationalities Federal Council (UNFC) and Northern Alliance groups were invited to the ceremony but they didn’t attend.

There are criticisms on NCA, but there are also noticeable progresses, said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

Among the progress made was the reduction of conflicts in areas controlled by the NCA-signatory organisations, and their socio-economic conditions have improved significantly, she said.

She also cited the successful conclusion by the NLD-led government of two peace conferences and preparations underway for the third one.

In the third meeting of the Panglong Peace Conference, discussion of basic principles of federal system will be continued and during 2018, there will be two more peace conferences, she added.

“In the coming 3rd time meeting of Panglong Peace Conference, I would like to urge the participants to set ambitions to finalise basic principles of federal system. After the principles, we will have to discuss details.” Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said.

“As we are in the same boat, if we cooperate with understanding and trust, we can reach our peace goal at last,” she said. Senior General Min Aung Hlaing urged non-signatory groups to sign the NCA.

“First, NCA is the most fundamental agreement for peace process which is urgently required for our nation. Second, without implementing NCA or without cease fire, peace process is not guaranteed and it can go back to armed conflicts.

Third, NCA wasn’t drafted by an individual or an organisation but was drafted by representatives of the government, the Tatmadaw and all ethnic armed groups,” he said.

Moreover, in Myanmar peace process history, long-time negotiations with ethnic armed groups had not been successful and only after signing NCA, it became successful, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing said.

NCA was made in accordance with majority’s agreement and participation in democratic ways, the senior general added.

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing warned that the groups who are ignoring to sign NCA will have to be defined as the ones who are neglecting the interest of the people.

A Union based on democracy and federal system with a rule of law can be formed, so the existing laws needs to be followed, he noted.

“The current problems that we’re facing will be resolved within the democracy framework. So, requests made while carrying weapons, a contradictory to democracy, need to be abandoned, and a solution will be made through the political route. And the first step to walk in order to do that is to sign in the NCA.” he said.

Former leader U Thein Sein-led government and eight ethnic armed groups in signing the NCA. After the civilian government took over, it had been carrying out the peace process but there were no additional ethnic armed group which signed the NCA.

Khun Okka, chairman of Pa-O National Liberation Organisation which signed the NCA, said the government-led celebration of the second anniversary of NCA is an acknowledgment that the truce agreement was a good layout to end the armed conflicts in the country.

Aside from State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, those who were present during the second anniversary celebration of NCA were President U Htin Kyaw, Vice President U Myint Swe, Vice President U Henry Van Thio, leaders from the eight ethnic armed groups that had signed the NCA, government officials, businessmen, officials involved in the peace process.

Myanmar top entrepreneurs such as U Tay Za, U Zaw Zaw, U Aung Ko Win, U Maung Wate, Dr Sai Sam Htun, Dr Khin Shwe, also attended the ceremony. Former President U Thein Sein did not attend the ceremony.

The government also invited ethnic armed groups that have not signed the ceasefire to the 2nd anniversary, but they didn’t attend.

The invited groups are members of the UNFE (United Nationalities Federation Council): New Mon State Party (NMSP), Karenni National Progressive Party (KNPP), Arakan National Council (ANC), Lahu Democratic Union (LDU), and Shan State Progress Party (SSPP); TNLA and the Northern Alliance.

The government said it remains open to accept in the peace talks non-signatory armed ethnic groups which would sign the ceasefire part.

But political analyst U Maung Maung Soe told The Myanmar Times that both the State Counsellor and the commander-in-chief did not come up with a specific strategy on how they will include the non signatory groups in the peace process.

“It was not mentioned in both speeches about how to make the unsigned groups to participate in peace process,” U Maung Maung Soe said.

“Also, it is still needed to observe whether national level political discussions could be made in Shan and Rakhine States in which the aforementioned were not made in the past,” he added.

Source: Myanmar Times

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